In Lightroom, how to merge folders on different drives that are within the same catalogue to one drive?

I have



and they are all within one catalogue. I'd like to merge the folders and store all photos on drive D:. How to do it?


Merger like this is generally done with the operating systems file manager. Simply merge the 2012 folder as you normally would with your operating system. Copy the 2001 folder to the D: drive using your operating system. Once copied, open Lightroom, enter the Library, and find the original location of that folder in the Folders panel to the left side. Right-click, select the "Find missing folder..." option, and locate the new location. The 2011 folder should now show up under your D: drive rater than C: drive.

  • If there are hundreds of subfolders, the described method is tedious and error prone. But if this is the only way, I accept with regret.
    – user6076
    Jul 23 '12 at 1:18
  • Lightroom uses a simple SQLite database for its catalog files. In principle you could write a program to automate the procedure above. However, the schema is undocumented and attempting such a complex operation unsuccessfully may leave the database in a corrupt state. I've had to do this awkward procedure before as well, so perhaps someone should invest effort in doing this. Jul 24 '12 at 11:02
  • Yeah, you could try to automate it, but you would essentially be flying blind. There is an "update folder location" option as well for non-orphaned folders...I guess that might allow you to move things around within LR, although it would still be on a per-folder basis. I would expect the migration process, performed through LR, to be pretty slow as well.
    – jrista
    Jul 24 '12 at 20:34

I'm confused. If both of them are in the same catalog, why don't you just drag and drop the 2011 from C: to the D: disk from with Lightroom, in the left panel? For C:/2012, expand that folder, click on the first subfolder, hold the shift key then click on the last subfolder to select all subfolders, then drag all of that inside D:/2012? You definitely not want to use the system file manager to avoid orphans in Lightroom (you can always resync a folder, but I don't quite trust it, especially if you didn't export all your metadata before).

  • Some but not all of subfolders of 2012 have same names. Won't doing what you described create a lot of pop-up boxes? Have you really done something I described above?
    – user6076
    Jul 23 '12 at 3:55
  • Well, first, it doesn't hurt just trying with one subfolder that has the same name in both 2012 folders to see what happens. It would definitely pop-up warnings if you are using the system file manager. I can try later today once I'm back on my desktop. Jul 23 '12 at 14:18
  • Actually LR not only displays a pop-up warning, but stops right there, so you can't drop a subfolder where a subfolder with the same name already exists :( Jul 24 '12 at 4:56
  • Drag and drop in LR is not really an effective or efficient way to move/merge a lot of folders in bulk. It is slower at moving & copying than the OS (sometimes by a LOT.) If you are using Windows 7, the operation could be handled in a single operation, as you can automatically merge and safely rename duplicates for all conflicts in a single answer to the first popup the OS generates. Hence my recommendation for moving/merging in the OS, and simply using "Find missing folder" in LR to reconnect broken catalog pointers.
    – jrista
    Jul 25 '12 at 13:54

The 2011 folder is easy: within Lightroom, in the Folders panel just drag it from the C: to the D: drive. Lightroom will move the files and update its database.

I don't know how many photos you've got in the 2012 folder, but I do regularly encounter a similar scenario. When back-dating scanned photos, I also like to shuffle them into the correct folders. I do this all on my main drive, so I end up with a bunch of old year folders; something like:


Of course, 2012 is my current working folder, and the others are the newly-created folders for the old scans. After I'm done working with the scans I want to get them on my external drive, which has many many years of folders, likely including those I've created.

So in this scenario, within Lightroom, I open the year folder (and the month folder, if I created one) and drag 1980/07/scan.jpg to my external drive's 1980/07/. There are likely many photos to move, so I simply select batches of them to move. This works well for me, but again I don't know how many photos you've got in your 2012 folder.

  • This sounds like better than doing it in OS.
    – user6076
    Jul 23 '12 at 15:24


I experienced the same issue and had 1000s of Photos to merge into an existing Year/Date structure (Format: /YYYY/YYYYMMDD). All folders are already in Lightroom - The source (new imports from my Mobile, = "New") and the destination (existing Tree, = "Fotos")
I derived a procedure containing many elements from previous answers that

  • works fast & reliable for many different folders to merge into the existing tree
  • containing duplicate date folders and new date folders to the same time
  • without re-importing metadate (which happens when syncing folders!)
  • contains steps within OS (Win7/Win10 File Explorer) AND within Lightroom
  • I add an explanation why I do as I do ...

Here is the Procedure:

  1. I Process Year by Year Note: In principle all Merge can be done at once as well, but repeating it for every year is not to much of extra work
  2. I call the Source Tree Source/YYYY/YYYYMMDD (my "New" Folder) the Destination Tree Destination/YYYY/YYYYMMDD (my "Fotos" folder)
  3. File Explorer: Move & Merge trees
    • Move Folder YYYY from Source to Destination (e.g. 2020 from New to Fotos)
    • Explorer Asks (Pop-Up): Confirm Folder Replace: This Destination already contains a folder named 2020. Do you want to merge the folder ... with this one? -> YES
    • Exporer shows the Progess window "Merging ..."
  4. Lightroom: Update Catalog WITHOUT losing / re-writing Metadata, changes, edits
    • in Navigator Window select Source/YYYY (e.g. New/2020)
    • since it has been moved away outside of LR, Folder and all Subfolders show "?"
    • Right-Click Source/YYYY (e.g. New/2020) and select "Find Missing Folders ..."
    • In the Pop-Up navigate to the merged folder Destination/YYYY (e.g. Fotos/2020)
    • Click Folder and confirm Button "Select Folder"
    • LR shows a confirmation Pop-Up "The selected folder or one of its Subfolders is already in Lightroom. Do you want to combine these Folders?
    • Confirm Button "Merge" and the magic starts to happen! The Source folder disappears from the catalogue The Merged folders and files appear in the Destination folder in the catalogue All catalogue data (metadata, edits, keywords, ...) are preserved Thousands of images merged in a single short procedure

I hope you find this summary helpful! Cheers Wolfgang (aka Spaceman71)

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